The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) has issued a Tsunami Warning for New Zealand in response to the above earthquake. The New Zealand Tsunami Expert Panel assessment is that this is a marine threat only for New Zealand. A Marine Threat means strong and unusual currents are possible in the sea, rivers and estuaries. No land threat is expected at this time.
Historical events and pre-calculated tsunami models indicate that the largest impact (up to 1 m wave height at the coastline) is expected along the coasts of the central and northern North Island (i.e. from East Cape northwards and from Kaipara northwards). First arrivals in the upper North Island are expected to coincide with a low tide.
Only messages issued by MCDEM represent the official warning status for New Zealand. Local civil defence authorities may supplement these messages by applying local threat assessments.
Confirmation been received that a tsunami was generated. No wave heights are available at this time.
The first wave to arrive to New Zealand will be in the areas around North Cape at approximately 0623 12 March 2011. The first wave may arrive later and may not be the largest.
Waves will continue for several hours.
People in coastal areas should:
Stay off beaches
Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
Do not go sightseeing
Share this information with family, neighbours and friends
Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
Follow instructions of your local Civil Defence authorities.
MCDEM and scientific advisors are closely monitoring the situation to determine the severity of the threat to New Zealand.
Local and regional/Group Civil Defence Emergency Management must:
Maintain activation of appropriate response coordination arrangements and communication processes
Keep potentially at-risk communities informed as appropriate
Maintain contact with the NCMC (CDEM Groups only)
Stand by for further information.
Local CDEM to act in coordination with regional/Group CDEM.
Local emergency services must establish and maintain active response coordination with respective local and reginoal/Group Civil Defence Emergency Management.
MCDEM is continuing activation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with public broadcasters to broadcast this warning. BBC news
A massive earthquake has hit the north-east of Japan, triggering a tsunami that has caused extensive damage.
Japanese television showed cars, ships and even buildings being swept away by a vast wall of water after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake.
The quake has sparked fires in several areas including Tokyo, with at least 15 people reported dead.
It struck about 250 miles (400km) from the capital at a depth of 20 miles. There have been powerful aftershocks.
The tremor hit at 1446 local time (0546 GMT). Seismologists say it is one of the largest earthquakes to hit Japan for many years.A tsunami warning was extended across the Pacific to include the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hawaii, the Pacific coast of Russia and North and South America.
Strong waves hit Japan's Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, officials said, damaging dozens of coastal communities. Kyodo news agency said a 10-metre wave (33ft) struck the port of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture.
Japan's NHK television showed a massive surge of debris-filled water sweeping away buildings, cars and ships and reaching far inland.
Motorists could be seen trying to speed away from the wall of water.
Farmland around Sendai was submerged and the waves pushed cars across the runway of the city's airport.
Kyodo said at least 15 people had been killed in the earthquake and tsunami. It was believed the death toll could rise significantly.
The earthquake also triggered a number of fires, including one at an oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, engulfing storage tanks.
There were reports of about 20 people injured in Tokyo after the roof of a hall collapsed on to a graduation ceremony.
Residents and workers in Tokyo rushed out of apartment buildings and office blocks and gathered in parks and open spaces as aftershocks continued to hit.
Many people in Tokyo said they had never felt such a powerful earthquake.
In central Tokyo, Jeffrey Balanag said he was stuck in his office in the Shiodome Sumitomo building because the elevators had stopped working.
"There's no panic but we're almost seasick from the constant rolling of the building," he told the BBC.
Bullet train services to northern Japan were halted, rapid transit in Tokyo was suspended and some nuclear power plants automatically shut down.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said there had been no radiation leaks.
In a televised address, he extended his sympathy to the victims of the disaster and said an emergency response headquarters had been set up.